BJJ Books: A guide for white belts

A book is an excellent way to strength your jiujitsu game. Here our list of favorite jiujitsu books for technique and/or mindset.

Types of Jiujitsu Books

There are two genres of jiu jitsu books available. The first group covers jiu jitsu techniques. These are pure instruction on how-to learn a particular move or principles.

The second category of BJJ books tend to focus more on personal insight, philosophy of training and stories. This category has become more popular over the years. In fact, some of the books below blend these two categories a bit.

Here we review some of the top jiu jitsu books to ever be printed. Whether you are new to grappling or a seasoned pro, martial artists of all types and levels will enjoy these selections.

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1. Non-Stop JiuJitsu

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An instant classic for jiu jitsu learners. Stephan Kesting spent over 6 years developing this book with his co-author Brandon Mullins. This book has received rave reviews and can take its rightful place in the canon of jiu jitsu instructional books.

In Non Stop Jiujitsu, Kesting set out to examine every aspect of modern jiu jitsu. This is an encyclopedia of jiu jitsu knowledge that deserves to be on every practitioner’s shelf. White belts and advanced belts will approach the level of detail and usefulness that Stephan has crammed into each page.

With over 265 full color pages, Stephan goes over step-by-step techniques of jiu jitsu in an easy-to-read format. He covers the details and alternate angles so you can properly understand each technique. The book describes each fundamental movement and advanced application is easy-to-understand language. Competitors will also appreciate the focus on strategy.

Non-Stop JiuJitsu is our #1 book recommendation for any who is (or wants to be) serious about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

2. JiuJitsu University

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Saulo Ribeiro’s JiuJitsu University is perhaps the best-selling Brazilian jiu jitsu book of all time. It was revolutionary in terms of its breath and scope at the time of its publication. To this day, it stands as one of the most useful jiu jitsu books in print.

Ribeiro takes a unique approach by organizing the chapters by belt rank, instead of technique. From “white belt survival” to black belt, he structures the techniques he covers based on the principles he believes each belt should master.

The production quality of this book is superb. Likewise, Saulo’s insight is priceless. Saulo covers basic, fundamental jiu jitsu that will never go out of style. The techniques and concepts he shares are battle tested by the world champion himself. The focus of this book is the gi, but the principles remain the same for no-gi.

3. The Black Belt Blueprint: An Intelligent Approach to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

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Nicolas Gregoriades was Roger Gracie’s first black belt. He takes a cerebral and philosophical approach to jiu jitsu. In “Black Belt Blueprint” he reveals his journey.

He offers a framework on how to learn jiu jitsu as opposed to learning techniques. In fact, there are no techniques taught in this book. If you are looking for a book on jiu jitsu lifestyle, this may be for you.

4. A Roadmap for BJJ

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This is the perfect quick read for anyone just starting out in grappling. Stephan Kesting reviews the basic principles and positional hierarchy of jiu jitsu. This book will help white belts understand jiu jitsu’s mechanics. It is also a good read for anyone prior to their first practice.

As an introductory text, it provides a basic taxonomy of terms and a mental model for understanding jiu jitsu. This is an affordable choice for beginners.

5. Mastering Jujitsu

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Renzo Gracie is one of the most accomplished BJJ and MMA fighters of all time. In Mastering JuJitsu Renzo teams up with John Danaher to produce this seminal jiujitsu book.  This one one of the first books to tackle the history of jiujitsu instead of just listing out techniques. Learn from Danaher and the Gracie Family, an unbelievable combo. 

Mastering JuJitsu is superb as both a book about the theory and practice of Brazilian jiu jitsu. The book explores the general frameworks of each position and gives you a way to think about how several techniques work in those contexts. It also covers BJJ from a mixed martial arts (MMA) point of view.

6. 5 Rules for White Belts

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Chris Matakas is one of jiu jitsu’s philosophers. In this book, he sets forth some essential mindset tips for beginners to jiu jitsu. This short book provides great value for white belts that want to “learn how to learn” BJJ.

Chris shows you how to overcome the rush of information that can occur during a training session and to organize it in logical ways. You will learn how to make training more enjoyable and maximize your growth in jiu jitsu.

9. Mastering The 21 Immutable Principles Of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: The Ultimate Handbook for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Students

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This book looks at jiu jitsu using analogies. It dives deep into understanding the principles behind each position and the corresponding strategies. It also explores each part of the body and how it should be utilized in the sport. For example, there is a section on how to properly use your hips to escape, or how black belts use their feet to make themselves feel heavy on top of their opponents. This is a novel and useful approach to teaching jiu jitsu.

While this book does not teach hundreds of techniques, it instead gives you a framework for understanding some 21 principles that Paulo sees as being essential. This is an excellent reading choice for white belts and blue belts.

10. Strategic Guard: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – Details and Techniques

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While this book is a little older, it is a foundational series on the guard. In fact, we cannot recommend enough all the jiu jitsu books written by Ed Bonneville. In Strategic Guard, Ed explores all the traditional closed positions in close detail. If you like to “play guard” then this book will help you master the position.

11. The Beginner’s Guide to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Principles and Strategies

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Written by Michigan based jiu jitsu black belt Ryan Forenzi. This is one of the best books for white belts to understand how to grasp concepts in jiu jitsu without becoming frustrated.

Ryan offers his viewpoint on jiu jitsu. Although this is not a technique instructional, it will without a doubt improve your ability to improve your skill level.  This book in a nutshell:  simple directions on the basis of jiu jitsu.

10. Gracie Submission Essentials: Grandmaster and Master Secrets of Finishing a Fight

Learn the Gracie jiu jitsu system from one of its founders: Helio Gracie. If you want to learn real gracie jiu jitsu then you need this book.

This book also covers jiujitsu’s self-defense perspective as taught by Helio Gracie. It includes Helio’s favorite techniques and standard guard, stand-up and submission techniques. This book is becoming hard to find, so grab it if you see a copy.

11. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique

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Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique was one of the first “bible” of Jiu Jitsu techniques. Renzo and Royler Gracie set the standard for BJJ books with this publication. This book is 255 pages of color photos covering all the basic positions and techniques of jiu jitsu.

The book is organized by belt rank, so you know which techniques you should study based on your level of jiu jitsu. The only downside to this book is that it is a little dated now, so it will not discuss the latest and greatest developments in jiu jitsu or competition. Still, this book should be on every practitioner’s bookshelf.

Should you read jiu jitsu books?

Reading jiu jitsu books will help you supplement your training. While a jiu jitsu practitioner must train the sport physically and in person to improve, books provide useful insight that you cannot otherwise get on the mat.

A book can only give you a unique perspective different from your coach or instructor. Sometimes you may not train (because of an injury) so a book may be the only way you can stay active.

Books are a great way to enjoy learning about jiu jitsu. Books reading is pleasurable and can be a more cerebral method of practicing jiu jitsu, so to speak.

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